Ganymede Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel


An azure heaven, where floats a feathery cloud,
An azure sea, far-scintillating light,
Soft, rich, like velvet, yielding to the eye;
Horizons haunted with some dreamlike sails;
A temple hypæthral open to sweet air
Nigh, on the height, columned with solid flame,
Whose flutings and acanthus-work are quick
With lithe green lizards, and whose shadows sharp
Bar slantwise inner wall and golden floor.

A locust-tree condensed the hazeless light
On glossy leaves, and let some trickle low
Among the cooler umbrage underneath;
Subdued there to a mellower quiet key,
Beholding unaware a lovely youth
Bare-limbed reclining, statue-moulded, white,
Whose dainty hand and rounded arm support
His chestnut-curled head, conscious, conquering.

Near by him, leaning on the chequered bole,
Sits his companion gazing on him fond,
A goat-herd, whose rough hand on bulky knee
Holds a rude hollow reeden pipe of Pan,
Tanned, clad with goatskin, rudely-mouldered, large;
While yonder, browsing in the rosemary
And cytisus, you hear a bearded goat,
Hear a fly humming, with a droning bee
In yon wild thyme and in the myrtles low,
That breathe in every feebly-blowing air;
Whose foamy bloom fair Gannymede anon
Plucks with a royal motion and an aim
Toward his comrade's tolerant fond face.
Far off cicada shrills among the pine,
And one may hear low tinkling where a stream
Yonder in planes and willows, from the blaze
Of day coy hiding, runs with many a pool
Where the twain bathe how often in the cool!

And so they know not of the gradual cloud
That stains the zenith with a little stain,
Then grows expansive, nearing one would say
The happy earth - until at last a noise
As of a rushing wind invades the ear,
Gathering volume, and the shepherd sees,
Amazed forth-peering, dusking, closing all
Startled and tremulous rock-roses nigh,
Portentous shadow; and before he may
Rise to explore the open, like a bolt
From heaven a prodigy descends at hand,
Absorbing daylight; some tremendous bird,
An eagle, yet in plumage as in form
And stature far transcending any bird
Imperial inhabiting lone clefts
And piny crags of this Indæan range.

But lo! the supernatural dread thing,
Creating wind from cavernous vast vans,
Now slanting swoops toward them, hovering
Over the fair boy, smitten dumb with awe.
A moment more, and how no mortal knows,
The bird hath seized him, if it be a bird,
And he though wildered hardly seems afraid,
So lightly lovingly those eagle talons
Lock the soft yielding flesh of either flank,
His back so tender, thigh and shoulder pillowed
How warmly, whitely in the tawny down
Of that imperial eagle amorous!
Whose beakèd head with eyes of burning flame
Nestles along the tremulous sweet heave
Of his fair bosom budding with a blush,
So that one arm droops pensile all aglow
Over the neck immense, and hangs a hand
Frail like a shell, pink like an apple bloom;
While shadowy wings expansive causing wind
Jealously hide some beauty from the sun.

Poor hind! who fancied as the pinions clanged
In their ascent, he looking open-mouthed
Distraught yet passive, that the boy's blue eye
Sought him in soaring! his own gaze be sure
Wearied not famished feeding upon all
The youth's dear charms for ever vanishing
From his love-longing, hungered for in heaven -
Took his last fill of delicate flushed face,
And sculptured limb, with rosy pendent foot
Slim-ankled, body dimpled, while he went,
Behold! he fades receding evermore
From straining vision misting dim with tears,
Gleaming aloft swan-white into the blue
Relieved upon the dusky ravisher,
Deeper and deeper glutting amorous light,
That cruel swallows all for evermore.

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